Bread – Wonderful

August 15, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, August 15 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 13:15-24; Acts 6:1-15; John 4:1-26; Psalms 101, 109, 119:121-144

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Following is a “Bread” I wrote on August 11, 2010, on the same verses, with some slight editing. On that day I was reminded of the wonderfulness of God, as I am again today:

In today’s reading from Judges, an angel has appeared to the husband and wife who will be Samson’s parents. The husband asks the angel "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?" The angel responds "Why do you ask me your name? It is beyond understanding." [NIV] Perhaps a better translation of the angel’s answer is "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" [ESV, NASB, NKJ] Judges 13:17-18

When something is wonderful or full of wonder, it is beyond description, beyond language, and beyond our understanding. One might describe it as the magic of the moment. Since sorcery is forbidden of Christians, however, maybe we best describe the wonderful event, person, or thing as something which is supernatural, something which goes beyond anything we can grasp with our mind, something which can be perceived but which is beyond reason.

Translated this way, the angel’s response to a question about his name could very well be paraphrased in today’s lingo – "Why bother, you won’t understand it anyway. Besides, you are experiencing my name, my essence, because I am here among you."

When I went to look up the Hebrew word "wonderful" actually used [Strong’s #6383], it turns out that the word for “wonderful” is used only twice in the Old Testament. The first is here in Judges. The second is in Psalm 139:6. This Psalm reads in part as follows:

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me!

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6

The connection between these two passages for Scripture is almost too wonderful for me to even write about today, because in this Psalm, not even in today’s readings, is a description of our Gospel lesson today. Our reading from John is the history of Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman is shocked that Jesus knows her history and that He will even talk to her. He tells her “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10. Jesus then tells her that He is the Messiah.

Stop and think about what just happened. God in His written revelation, the Bible, used a Hebrew word for “wonderful” to describe an angel sent by Him to speak to His people, a word which is used in only one other place. That one other place is in a Psalm (not even in today’s lessons) which describes the completeness by which God knows us. And in today’s reading from John, Christ demonstrates the completeness of that knowledge without ever using the word "wonderful." And this connection was made in the organization of today’s Scripture reading by someone who prepared the readings (the Daily Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer) perhaps as long as five hundred years ago, only to be discovered by me this morning.

How wonderful is that? How wonderful is it that God’s Word is a living, breathing revelation of Himself, all interconnected, and all with a single message – that God knows us, that He loves us, that He takes us in our rebellious, sinful state and that through our absolute trust in Jesus gives us eternity with Him? How wonderful is it that we can know Jesus, that we can talk to Him, and that we can live victoriously in all circumstances in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the shelter of the Most High? How wonderful is it that we can be saved from ourselves? How wonderful is God?

How wonderful is God!

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© 2012 GBF

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